I'm trying to give up smoking.
Or, at least, I'm thinking about trying to give up smoking. For those who know me off-blog, they will know very well that this shocking news is somewhat akin to Gordon Brown contemplating voluntary resignation, the Pope donning a pink sequinned cowboy hat for Gay Pride or Jordon (aka Katie Price) being seen in a twinset and pearls.
I'm one step ahead of this lot though, having purchased a pack of nicotine patches at the chemist this morning. Yes, they are still sitting in my handbag unopened, but they're acting as a constant reminder of my sort-of intent every time I delve in my bag to rummage for the ever-present pack of Marlboro Lights.
Baby steps, right?
Most people think my long attachment to the ciggies is kind of pathetic. They also think that a stern talking-to will make me see the error of my ways; a tactic especially favoured by ex-smokers who, frankly, should know better. Kindly folks suggest all kinds of cures, usually something bizarre that worked for their second-cousin twice removed who once smoked 90 Woodbines a day and is now running half-Marathons. I've heard all kind of nonsense, from fiddling with your ear when you feel the urge to light up a gasper (er, I don't get how that works, I really don't) to sweat therapy (yuck, anyway do something of this nature every day in Dubai and can tell you that sweating just makes me cross and thus more likely to reach for the cigs).
People also tell me that it's selfish to smoke when I have children - think of the kiddies being all sad and troubled when you've smoked yourself into an early grave! - which really p*sses me off, because the people who tell me this tend to binge-drink themselves silly every weekend, drive like w*nkers and will undoubtably collapse under the weight of their own smugness at some point in the near future.
Intellectually, I know all the very good reasons to give up smoking. I know it's bad for me. I know that I risk all kinds of chronic health problems from filling my lungs with a smorgasbord of chemicals and evil nicotine. I am aware that my lips will turn into a cat's bum and I will look like a Gucci handbag if I keep going for much longer. I know that all this is even worse now that I'm on the fast-track to 40, plus I can no longer claim the arrogance of youth.
But I also know that since smoking is terribly unfashionable (and thus easy to tag as the cause for all social ills and more besides) it makes me a valid target for every do-gooder I encounter on my daily business. I could starve myself to skeleton proportions, gulp down the booze like no tomorrow, contact STD's on a weekly basis and refuse to get out of bed in the morning without swallowing a bunch of prescription meds and I would probably be still less of a social pariah than I am as a smoker - I would definitely be on the receiving end of less well-meaning meddling. Which, being a bit of a rebellious soul who hates being told what to do, actually makes me want to smoke all the more.
Me stopping smoking is a bit like weaning a toddler from a strong attachment to its dummy or cuddly blankie. Yes, it's inevitable that eventually they will give up their baby things one day (or in my case, teenage things) but you have to expect it to be a painful, drawn-out process which will be punctuated by tantrums, the repetitive throwing of toys out of the pram and many sleepless nights.
Watch this space.